EIGHTEEN foreign teams have so far applied for inclusion in the sixth Le Tour de Filipinas,--the only International Cycling Union -sanctioned multi-stage road race in the country—which kicks off Feb. 1 to 4 next year.
Mostly composed of returnees, the list includes four teams from Iran—TSR Continental Team, TPT Cycling Team, Pishgaman Yazd Pro Cycling Team and Tabriz Shahrdadi Team—and two each from Japan—Team Ukyo and Bridgestone Cycling Team—and Taiwan—RTS Carbon Team and Attaque Team Gusto.
The Le Tour has also drawn the interest from Europe, the Frøy-Bianchi Continental Team based in Norway, and from the United States, Team Novo Nordisk, as well as from Australia, Satalyst Giant Racing Team and Team Vorarlberg.
Organized by Ube Media, the race—Air21 PhilCycling chairman Bert Lina’s brainchild to bring Philippine cycling to the global stage which celebrates 60 years of the Philippine Tour in 2015—also has applicants from Brunei (CNN Cycling team and Brunei Prince’s Team), Kazakhstan (Astana Continental Team), Indonesia (Pegasus Continental Team), Malaysia (Terengganu Cycling Team) and Uzbekistan (National Team).
Organizers are keen at limiting participation to 15 teams, including two local squads—the PhilCycling national training pool and continental team 7-Eleven—for the Le Tour where Mark John Galedo is the defending general classification champion.
Stage One on February 1 will be an out-and-back 126-km Balanga-Balanga ride over Bataan’s mountains, Stage 2 on February 2 will be 153.75 kms of relatively flat racing from Balanga to Iba, Zambales, Stage 3 on February 3 will be a similarly flat 149.34-km race from Iba to Lingayen, Pangasinan, and Stage 4 on February 4 will be from Lingayen to Burnham Park in Baguio City via Kennon Road.
Two Filipinos have won the Le Tour de Filipinas—Baler Ravina (2012) and Galedo—and two Iranians—Rahim Emami (2011) and Ghader Mizbani (2013) and one Irish—David McCann (2010).